University of Nebraska Medical Center

Impact in Education Awards

Impact in Education Awards displayed on desk

The education awards honor our faculty, who are among the most talented in the nation.

The Impact in Education Awards are the highest education-related awards conferred by UNMC. The eight awards recognize the dedication and ingenuity of our educators. Award categories include emerging educator, innovation, leadership, mentorship, service, interprofessional education, research and sustained achievement. 

Recipients receive award funds for professional development, recognition at the annual award ceremony and their name displayed on a plaque in the Academic Affairs office. The awards are sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, and the selection process and ceremony are facilitated by the Interprofessional Academy of Educators.

2023-2024 Recipients

Congratulations to our newest UNMC Impact in Education Award winners:

  • Varner Educator Laureate: Allison Cushman-Vokoun, MD, PhD
  • Emerging Educator: Dalton Nelsen, MD
  • Excellence in Educational Service: Kathleen Scott, DNP
  • Innovative Practices in Education: Amy Cannella, MD
  • Inspirational Mentor of Educators: Elizabeth Harlow, MD
  • Interprofessional Education Scholar: Teresa M. Cochran, DPT
  • Scholar in Education Research: Sue Schuelke, PhD
  • Visionary Leadership in Education: Jennifer Adams, MD

Email the Interprofessional Academy of Educators with any questions.

Award Categories

Varner Educator Laureate (highest recognition)

The award recognizes an individual with sustained achievement in education who has significantly improved the UNMC learning environment through the provision of outstanding educational experiences. The award is sponsored by Jerald Varner, PhD, and can only be awarded one time to the same individual.

Award Amount: $10,000

View award criteria

Emerging Educator

The award recognizes an emerging health science educator who demonstrates excellence, dedication, and perseverance in teaching and education early in their career.

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Excellence in Educational Service

The award recognizes a UNMC volunteer, emeritus or adjunct faculty member who exemplifies the spirit of outstanding teaching and whose contributions are significant and lasting to the advancement of health care learners, health care education or health care professions. (Note: This was previously known as the Valor in Educational Service award.)

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Innovative Practices in Education

The award recognizes an individual or team that demonstrates ingenuity, courage and creativity in teaching, including innovations in use of educational technology, experiential learning, adoption of simulation and/or creative use of the classroom.

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Inspirational Mentor of Educators

The award recognizes an individual who has mentored junior faculty or trainees in developing as health professions educators. This mentorship may take the form of individual mentoring, or developing and implementing programs or resources targeted to improve health professions educators at the local, regional, or national level. The focus of this mentoring award is on developing future health professions educators.

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Interprofessional Education Scholar

The award recognizes an individual or team who has demonstrated excellence in interprofessional education. This includes teaching in an interprofessional learning environment, disseminating the results and best practices of interprofessional education, and contributing locally, regionally or nationally to the advancement of interprofessional education.

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Scholar in Education Research

The award recognizes an individual who has advanced the science of teaching and learning through research of educational pedagogy. This includes receiving funding for original research in the areas of teaching/learning strategies, learning outcomes, and best practices in education. Significant contributions are demonstrated through peer reviewed publications, grants, and participation on the local, regional, or national level in developing educational scholarship. (Note: This was previously known as the Research in Education Scholar award.)

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

Visionary Leadership in Education

The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated the ability to skillfully establish or administer an educational initiative or role at UNMC or nationally.

Award Amount: $5,000

View award criteria

About Jerald Varner, PhD

Dr. Jerald Varner poses with a recognition medal

Dr. Jerald Varner's lifelong passion for interprofessional education, combined with his love of the intersection between biology, medicine and engineering, inspired his decision to endow and support the Varner Educator Laureate award. 

Dr. Varner's career as an educator in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln spans more than 50 years. His specialization is in the Bioengineering Area, with the hope that his work will make a difference in people’s lives.

Dr. Varner was a consultant for the National Institutes of Health for 25 years and actively consulted with other institutions. Additionally, he has worked summers as a visiting researcher on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland, doing research related to the analysis of the electrical activity of the brain.

While active in research, his first priority and love is always in instructing students. To this end, Dr. Varner has received several teaching awards, including being awarded Outstanding Professor in Electrical Engineering for two years.

Dr. Varner also currently funds the Varner Professorship in Pancreatic Cancer and Global Health in the College of Medicine, which is held by Chandra Are, MD.

Watch a video of Dr. Varner explaining why he sponsors the Educator Laureate award.